#bookquotes

#BQ In An Absent Dream by Casey Carlisle

I’ve been trying to get into fantasy again… there are sooo many books of this genre on my TBR shelves, but I can’t seem to last long before switching back to different genres. I used to consume fantasy novels. How tastes change as you grow and develop as a reader.

What genre has fallen out of favor for you?

Book Review – ‘One Word Kill’ (#1 Impossible Times) by Mark Lawrence

Dungeons and Dragons, time travel, ‘80’s Britian.. just like a Doctor Who episode but with more gore.

One Word Kill (#1 Impossible Times) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 201

From Goodreads:

In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.

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One Word Kill’ is such a great concept and told in a way that felt realistic and grounded – if not intertwined with Dungeons and Dragons symbolism.

It is set in the ‘80’s London, and we get a heavy dose of that in the narrative which I adored. But I was a little thrown with the drug dealing arc, and how homosexuality was dealt with. The former was quite violent and confronting for me, and the latter had more of a current-day attitude. Being gay in the ‘80’s was a more turbulent topic, and I would have liked this developed more and ring true to the era.

I guessed the plot very early on, especially after the introduction of the ‘bald stalker.’ I jumped into ‘One Word Kill’ with no prior knowledge other than a few firm recommendations from fellow bloggers and intrigued by the premise. But I really enjoyed Mark Lawrence’s writing style, it has a raw flourish to it that feel unique and lends to the atmosphere of the novel.

SARAH JANE ADVENTURES (hi res)Told in first person from our protagonist, Mark’s point of view; the opening scene of him dealing with a cancer diagnosis. A great way to grab my attention. ‘One Word Kill’ was a joy to read. Lawrence does not waste words, each scene moves the story forward at a cracking pace.

I think I struggled with the content most of all which is why I have given it the rating I have. It felt slightly scattered and confronting at the same time. Having a small gang added to the ‘80’s nostalgia like a lot of the films from that era a’la ‘The Goonies,’ ‘Stand By Me,’ but given the books length don’t get to fully establish and explore the relationships.

A sidebar for some readers: there is graphic content, which shocked me a little given the YA demographic of ‘One Word Kill.’

Although this novel can be read as a standalone, and the major plots points are resolved, I felt like it wasn’t resounding enough for me know the story is finished, and thus am keen to get my hands on the sequel ‘Limited Wish.’ Which is another reason for the rating – maybe the story was too short to fully explore the characters, themes and take the protagonist on a journey that changes him. We get that but in a micro-dose. This was my first novel from Lawrence and colour me impressed. It reminds me of the way Seanan McGuire writes: colourful, novella-lengthed stories within a single universe.

Overall feeling: Great little discovery 🙂 

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One Word Kill (#1 Impossible Times) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Building my own library

Dream vs reality in creating that perfect space to read and show off your book collection.

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For those who didn’t know, I’ve had a couple of brushes with death. Cancer nearly claimed my life twice, and I had a long and painful battle to get a life back. But there is more fight in this old girl yet *I jump side to side like a boxer pumping my fists.* That has taught me to dream big and make sure my experience on this planet is a happy and fun one. So I keep a bucket list, try to tick off big goals and little ones as often as I can… One of the more personal, but materialistic items has been around my reading and writing life. Who doesn’t like a nerd-mecca in their own house!

Building my Library Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgI’ve had a fantasy of my own library, whiling away hours sequestered in a cozy reading nook. Collecting pictures of my dream library and window boxes for winter reading. Even couches lit by gorgeous floor lamps, decorated with fur throws and cable knit cushions… It’s all in the ether of my brain, percolating until I get to build my new home. Yet those plans are still a pipe dream at the moment. But getting the blueprints down is step one. C’mon Lotto – I need a big win!!

In the meantime, I’ve settled for reconditioning some antique bookshelves. I found them online for sale by a neighbour’s Estate sale. The aim is to strip them back, fix the cracks and some of the joinery, and then give many coats of white paint and wooden curlicue applications to accentuate the French Provincial feel I want in my work room. It’s where I write, read, and come up with all my ideas. Time to get crafty, pull out the electric sander and dance to girl power music in the garage.

There’s an old chaise lounge I’ll endeavour to get recovered in a romantic regency brocade, either in sliver and pale blue tones, or go bold with red and gold. The space is about half-way there. The wall and ceiling painting has been completed, new white office furniture and floor rugs for ambience. Then it’s about all those other small touches to bring out personality and style. Something about a chaise lounge says ‘I’m classy and important,’ besides the fact that is looks like a normal lounge where one side has melted in the sun.

Building my Library Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleI steer towards more of a white, open plan workspace. I find too much colour or clutter makes me feel claustrophobic in the creative process – especially if I’m frustrated with a writing challenge. Plus that decorating pallet helps to highlight the books lining the shelves. It’s not the grand style library I’ve dreamed about, but it’s inexpensive and looks bright and stylish. Something about being in that room is inspiring in itself. I’m most likely at least half a year away from finishing as the restoration work is intricate work, and the massive bookshelves are tremendously heavy and I only have friends over on weekends to help me move the shelving. The furniture reupholstery is going to cost a bit too; so I have to save.

But is should be a marvellous Christmas present to myself if I can get it all done by the end of this year. I could get it finished much sooner if I dropped everything and worked hard, but I’m trying to focus on writing this year, and completing projects. I started way too many last year and feel like I’m not making much progress because I stretched myself too thin. But I’ll share some pictures of my workspace when it’s all completed.

In the meantime, I have various study nooks to work in. One overlooking the coast from the window at the front of the house; one in a sunroom under a canopy of trees overlooking a natural spring where there is always plenty of colourful rainforest birds and purple waterlilies; or in my big white office with heaps of desktop space to spread out on. Or, if I’m feeling adventurous, there’s some great restaurants close by to spend an extended lunch in luxury (and they’re not as loud as café’s); and if the weather is right, me and the dog can sit on the beach. So many great places to cop a squat and read or write. I’d love to spend a day in the underwater aquarium, but the cover charge is hefty and there’s not much space to lounge without interruption – and I get the feeling the staff there would ask me to move on ☹  Though I’ve been thinking that a fish tank would be a fantastic addition to the study… if I don’t spend hours staring at it hypnotised.

What make your ideal study spot or reading nook (apart from bed)?

Bucket List by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Down a dark path…

Dwelling briefly on the bad things that happen to us in life, can also bring out the good.

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I like to think I look at the brighter side of life. Stay positive and always aim for happiness and positivity. Though, you can’t have the light without the dark, and, as an exercise I wanted to explore some of the things that have greatly impacted on my life that I wish I could change – but that said, those difficult times have shaped me into a stronger person and taught me valuable lessons…

down-a-dark-path-pic-02-by-casey-carlisle – I want those ten years back I spent in hospital beds, visiting clinics and specialists for treatment and becoming a human pincushion. There is a chunk of growing up I missed. Things that you only get to experience when you’re young. I hear stories from my friends and wish I’d had similar experiences to go wild or be silly. I have always had to remain focused, never knowing how much time I have left. Some reckless abandon and teen milestones would have been nice.

down-a-dark-path-pic-03-by-casey-carlisle – Losing my mother destroyed any sense of family and security I had. It left me alone in this world and hammered home the fact that we are all alone, many people we call friends are untrustworthy and are out for what they can get. People I counted as friends turned and started grabbing for money and possessions. I stopped seeing the best in others for a while.  Losing my cherished pooches devastated me in an unexpected way. That loss of unconditional love fills your life with joy and happiness, and when it is gone you feel lost and empty. I know death is an inevitable part of life – we all have to deal. But I’d love to skip the pain and emptiness part. It’s debilitating and hangs around for years. After finally getting cancer into remission, I only had a short space of time before facing the Grim Reaper. It’s just another thing that has made me appreciate the present and live in the moment. Making life happy, going for your dreams and sharing the love has never been more important to me.

down-a-dark-path-pic-04-by-casey-carlisle – why is so much of our lives and happiness dependent on how much money we have? People steal it, owe it, try and trick you to get it. One of the most troubling times in my life and relationships has been over money. I wish it never existed sometimes. I worry about it less now, but there were times when I was seriously concerned about losing my home, having the electricity shut off and wondering when I could afford to buy food next. If anything it taught me to save, budget, live within my means and never be too prideful to ask for help.

down-a-dark-path-pic-05-by-casey-carlisle – how people treat and judge each other. I had my fair share of bullying growing up. And then rejection. From my family, the ones who are supposed to love you no matter what. It left me thinking everyone is insincere and vindictive. I never let anyone know my true self. There is always a big chunk of me that I hide. But nothing is more empowering than living out loud. At times, it’s hard to ignore the negativity and scowls around you, but the more you stop thinking about other people’s opinions and focus on your happiness, the more fulfilling your life will be.

down-a-dark-path-pic-06-by-casey-carlisle – At least a couple of times a week I get a flash in my head about something I’ve done, or said, that I wish I could change or erase. Why can’t I just accept that it is in the past and move on? Many of these events are small and trivial and don’t affect anyone. Some are over what impressions I felt I made on other people… and others have me wondering if I hurt someone else with words or actions… It makes me wonder if I’m wired differently, or I have a mental illness at times. I guess it’s a sign of compassion and caring for others, so I just have to accept I’m one of these people who wants to share the joy. It keeps me accountable for what I do, keeps my morals and standards high. Though is gives me worry at times, it keeps me aware of those around me that I love and appreciate.

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So, while all of the good times in my life far outweigh the bad, and some of these events, though difficult and life changing and haven’t come without a cost, I don’t think I would change them because I wouldn’t be the person I am today. But the whole ‘what if’ question leaves me imagining how life would have turned out if I’d managed to avoid these difficulties… hmm might be an idea for another novel 😉

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Making a difference in the world

After going into remission from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma a number of years back, and deciding not to return to teaching, I was staring at my Bucket List – and the item I’d scrawled out at some stage: Make a difference in the world.

What exactly did I mean when I wrote that in a chemo addled daze? Nonetheless, I want to complete everything on my list. It keeps me accountable. Keeps me on my toes and questioning if I am getting the most out of life – finding happiness and not falling into routine and contentment.

Making a Difference in the World Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.gifI may have meant my entry as some big gesture. Altruistic. Like passing on some profound knowledge, or some big public spectacle for the greater good. I may have daydreamed of possessing a super power or unlimited funds in my bank account ‘You get a car, you get a car, and you get a car

But now, I prefer to think it means to help change the world and attitudes around me for the better through a number of small ways:

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Entertaining people. Making them laugh, smile, or whisking them away to some make-believe place for a while to enrich their imagination. Being the class clown growing up, I was always cracking jokes, falling down, narrating Mum and Dad’s actions with fart noises; sometimes going as far as dressing the dogs up in my clothes and walking them down the street. I wanted to share the love, the fun… and get a little be of attention. Now that I’m an adult and many of those activities would have me locked up in a Sanatorium, that exorbitant, over-active mind for the fantastic is used for writing prose. Which I pray at least one person will find mildly amusing and somewhat entertaining. We all need a little escapism sometimes.

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Meeting new people, sharing my story hoping to inspire and in some way – help them on their own journey. It could be through getting involved in their lives, or it could be something as simple as a smile to brighten their day. I get told a lot that I should write a book about my life. I’ve conquered some big events, accomplished many things and tried different careers and places to live. But that’s just my itchy feet always wanting to try something new, strive for excellence. I don’t really think my life is that amazing or different. Maybe I’m more vocal about it. The thought of writing an autobiography sounds boring (and it’s far from over yet)…

Dear Journal, today I overcame the fear that I have a fat bum, squeezed into a pair of jeans and ventured out into the world to do some shopping and decided that people weren’t looking at me because I am weird, but that I am beautiful… and that isn’t toilet paper stuck to the heel of my shoe.

I know I’ve been thrown a fair number of curve balls in my life, but you just get on with things. So if hearing my story helps someone get through theirs, I’m all for it. Plus, a giggle along the way always makes a situation less scary and dire.

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I like to pass on whatever knowledge I’ve garnered in this life. Knowledge should be free. It’s the teacher in me. Whether it be through my blog, conversation, or tutoring. Sharing knowledge gives independence… and it’s something I’m passionate about. I’m a student of life and love new adventures, experiences, and discovering things in books.

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It shouldn’t matter the colour of your skin, how much money you have, who you love, everyone should be valued for who they are. And so I like to show them acceptance, tolerance, love and mutual respect.

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Yeah it’s all a bit idealistic, but embodies the idea I had when I thought I may be leaving this world. It showed me what was important – and the things I valued the most when I thought it was the end…

I’m not perfect, sometimes I falter, but then I can always look at my list. Remember when I was in a hospital bed and wished I could do something… and so I am. And hey, these ways are so simple anyone can do them!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness

Something to make you shiver and cringe… but also give you a big warm hug.

A Monster Calls Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Horror, Magical Realism

No. of pages: 216

From Goodreads:

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

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A Monster Calls’ is haunting and beautiful. I think it sheds a light on a lot of unexpected feelings around guilt, loss and grief and lets you know that it’s okay. It delivers that eerie folk tale in a modern setting, familiar to the works of The Brothers Grimm, Roald Dahl and Emily Carroll.

Our protagonist, Connor’s behaviour and reactions tell a story of their own, and then upon finishing the novel, take on a different meaning with hindsight.

I got a little angry for Connor, at the helplessness of his situation and at the apparent apathy of many of the adults around him. Not that they weren’t sympathetic, but that they didn’t show him how important he was.

In that manner, this book struck a personal chord with me. I too have suffered through a similar experience with my mother, and I have had my own battle with cancer. A lot of memories were dredged up, both pleasant and gut-wrenching.

The Yew Tree Monster had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck a few times and was truly terrifying. Not an easy feat, so I commend Patrick Ness on creating an atmosphere that really creeped me out.

I liked the splattered and scratchy ink illustrations, all in black and white adding to the tone of the narrative.

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For such a dark book it carries a lot of hope. Really impressed. Highly recommended.

Best Patrick Ness book I’ve read to date – can’t wait to see if it translates the big screen with the movie due for imminent release.

Overall reaction: Holy crow!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Write a novel… and then what?

I’ve had “Write a Novel” on my bucket list since I was a child, but I think I should have been clearer, or at least added a couple of more steps…

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Write a novel? Tick, yes. Done!

But now it’s time to do re-writes. Then off to some Beta readers to get some input. Then another draft. And lastly, off to an Editor to get a final draft.

And that’s just the writing process.

After that it’s off to a publisher… or should I say, go through the submission process to get a publisher (via literary agent).

Then, if deemed a suitable match (and contract negotiations), my manuscript will be published and I’ll see it on shelves at my local bookstore.*

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All of that listed above is what’s really meant to be included in the ‘write a novel’ Bucket List item. How naive I was.

 

I don’t want to be a one hit wonder either. I want several books published. Not through self-publishing, or vanity publishing, or any of the other variety of ways to see your novel in print. I desire traditional publishing. (Plus it’s a validation that you have been deemed worthy… something that plays to my ego.)

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These days, a traditional publisher wants to see that you are a viable investment – a career writer. So, simply ‘write a novel’ has a lot of weight to it if you want to take it seriously. And I do. So what started off as a pipe-dream when I got diagnosed with cancer has turned into a career.

I’m old fashioned that way.

If only my chemo addled brain had made that realisation when I’d scratched out the single most want of my heart’s desire.

You need to have a vision of many books to be written in the future, either stand alone, or a series. Roughly sketched out plots, a timetable.

Now that you have the writing side sorted, there is all manner of elements that go along with it to add to your dossier to be deemed a worthy investment. Like an online presence, previously published works, a network or connections within the industry, a marketing plan, all these are thrown onto the pile just to make life just a little more exasperating. All from the three words “write a novel.”

Granted, you don’t really have to do any of it. You could just complete your manuscript and release it online, or self-publish an ebook. But I’m a glutton for punishment and a purist. I want the dream from my childhood, whether it’s realistic or not.

So I formed a 1-3 year plan. Made a detailed list. And I’m halfway there…

As big and as involved as this innocent little item on my Bucket List is, it has definitely been the most satisfying. I guess anything that takes a considerable amount of effort to achieve is ultimately rewarding… and while I could cross if off the list because the manuscript is complete; I think I’ll keep it there until the dream is fully realised.

But in the meantime I have plenty more items to attack, and life will be ever more richer because of it 🙂

 

Do you have a Bucket List, or are writing a novel? I’d love to hear all about your experiences and goals to help make life more fun and amazing.

*Let me live in this fantasy of perfection – it’s the only thing keeping me going at the moment – that, and a fridge stocked full of Tim-Tams and LOTS of coffee!

Bucket List by Casey Carlisle

 © Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.